January 23, 2010
1928 Winter Olympics - St. Moritz, Switzerland
This was the hockey arena where the world battled for a gold medal at the 1928 Winter Olympic games in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
It was a beautiful setting. The rink was 200x90 feet, with 5 foot high boards. Weather played havoc with the outdoor rink, of course. Although the opening ceremonies were held in a bitterly cold snow storm, four days later the weather turned so mild organizers were considering cancelling the games. The rink, which was also used for events such as speed skating and figure skating, was reduced to slush. Fortunately the cold weather returned by day 6.
Canada won the gold, with Sweden taking silver and the host Swiss taking the Bronze. Here's a pic of Canada and Sweden gathering together after their game:
In terms of historical significance, the Swedes had no great names on their roster. Neither did Austria, Belgium, France, Britain, Hungary or Poland. The Czechoslovakians boasted goal scoring legend Josef Malecek; the Germans had Gustav Jaenecke; while the Swiss were powered by Bibi Torriani.
The United States did not send a team.
Canada was represented by the University of Toronto Graduates, although not without some controversy.
The U of T narrowly edged Fort William in the Allan Cup to earn the right to play in the Olympics, but he international team would be seriously altered from the Allan Cup team. Coach Conn Smythe - yes, that Conn Smythe - wanted to add two players to the Olympic roster - Wes Kirkpatrick and Dick Richards. But two of Smythe's own players - Joe Sullivan and Hugh Plaxton - lobbied successfully over his head to have relatives Frank Sullivan, and Bert and Roger Plaxton join the team. You can imagine how upset Smythe was over this move, and he refused to go to Switzerland.
Canada had time to smooth things over, thanks to boat trip to Antwerp that lasted nearly 7 days. Then they found even more time once the Olympics got under way. Because of their acknowledged superiority, Canada was granted a bye right through the preliminary round. They would not play until the medal round.
Canada won the gold easily, knocking off Sweden 11-0, Great Britain 14-0 and Switzerland 13-0.
Goaltenders Joe Sullivan (2 games) and Norbert "Stuffy" Mueller (1 game) were perfect with shutouts.
Meanwhile the offense was led by Hugh Plaxton and future NHL star Dave Trottier, with 12 goals a piece in just 3 games.
This team was a virtual list of unknowns by Canadian standards.
On defense were team captain Red Porter and Frank Fisher, who both doubled as referees in games not involving Canada. Roger Plaxton and Ross Taylor also skated on the back end.
Other forwards were Charlie Delahey, Grant Gordon, Bert Plaxton and Frank Sullivan.
There was one other forward, Plaxton and Trottier's right winger Dr. Lou Hudson. He is noteworthy in that it was his brother, Dr. Henry Hudson, who was flying the doomed plane that crashed carrying hockey legend Bill Barilko in 1951. Lou was supposed to be on that flight, too, but he opted out because the extra body made the load to heavy for the small Fairchild 24 plane.